Honolulu County Cannabis – Is It Legal & Where To Buy 2024

Is Cannabis Cultivation Legal in Honolulu County?

The cultivation of cannabis for recreational purposes is illegal in Honolulu, as adult-use cannabis is illegal in Hawaii. However, registered patients and caregivers under the Hawaii medical marijuana program may legally cultivate up to 10 marijuana plants at any stage of maturity in accordance with the provisions of the state’s medical marijuana legalization act (Act 228).

To cultivate marijuana for medical uses, cultivators must have registered their intention to cultivate cannabis with the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH). The DOH must approve cultivation locations and requires that home-cultivated cannabis plants be grown at the residences of patients or caregivers or sites controlled by these individuals. Hawaii law requires that all cannabis plants cultivated in any approved location be tagged with the registered patient's 329 card (Hawaii medical marijuana card) number and expiration date.

Note that from January 1, 2024, caregivers will no longer be allowed to cultivate cannabis plants for qualifying patients, except for adults lacking the capacity to grow their own cannabis, for minors, or on islands that do not have dispensaries.

Is Cannabis Manufacturing Legal in Honolulu County?

The manufacturing of cannabis products for recreational purposes is illegal in Honolulu County. However, licensed medical dispensaries are permitted to produce medical cannabis products. A 2016 legislation (SB 321) established Hawaii's medical cannabis dispensary system and allowed approved medical cannabis dispensaries to operate two production centers. Note that HB 2097 passed by the Hawaii legislature in 2020 now permits certain marijuana edibles to be manufactured by medical cannabis producers. While baked medical cannabis products and candies are not allowed, the state permits lozenges, pills, drinks, and other cannabis topicals.

Is Cannabis Retail Legal in Honolulu County?

The retail of adult-use cannabis is illegal in Honolulu County. However, medical cannabis dispensaries may sell medical-grade cannabis to registered patients under the Hawaii medical marijuana program. Medical cannabis retailers must verify the identities and registrations of their customers before permitting them to purchase medical cannabis on their premises.

Is Cannabis Delivery Legal in Honolulu County?

Cannabis delivery is illegal in Honolulu County. No person or entity is permitted to deliver adult-use or medical cannabis within the county's borders.

How to Get Medical Marijuana Card in Honolulu County

A medical marijuana (MMJ) card, also called a 329 registration card in Hawaii, is a state-issued identification card that authorizes the use of medical marijuana by the individual named on the card and protects that person from being charged for cannabis possession. The MMJ card is issued by the Hawaii Department of Health.

To be eligible to obtain an MMJ card in Honolulu County, the applicant must be aged 18 or older and possess valid identification. Persons under the age of 18 may designate adult caregivers to assist in completing their registrations. The registration process begins when the applicant obtains a certification to use medical marijuana from a licensed physician or advanced practice registered nurse (APRN).

Hawaii’s Act 241 requires that medical marijuana patients obtain the approval of licensed physicians who will certify that their medical conditions can be improved with the therapeutic use of cannabis. Before a physician may issue a medical cannabis certification, the healthcare practitioner will verify that the patient suffers from at least one of the following approved conditions in accordance with HRS-329:

  • HIV
  • AIDS
  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Lateral ALS (disease Lou Gehrig)
  • Glaucoma
  • Muscle spasms
  • Crohn's disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Cachexia or Wasting Syndrome
  • Lupus
  • Seizures
  • Severe nausea
  • Severe pain
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

During the appointment, with the healthcare practitioner, to obtain a medical cannabis certification, the physician may request your medical records and ask questions that will aid in the diagnosis. Upon determining that an applicant is qualified to use medical marijuana, the APRN or physician will prepare a written certification statement and sign it electronically in the state's database, attesting that the patient has a qualifying medical condition.

After obtaining a medical cannabis certification, the applicant must proceed to complete the application on the Hawaii Medical Cannabis Registry. During the application process, the applicant will be required to:

  • Upload copies of their valid driver's license, state-issued ID, or United States passport
  • Enter the name of the certifying physician or APRN. Note that an established patient-caregiver relationship must exist between the applicant and the certifying healthcare practitioner
  • Complete the Grow Site Certification Form. This form is only applicable to applicants intending to grow cannabis plants or those who intend to have their caregivers cultivate marijuana plants in Hawaii on their behalf
  • Pay the application fee of $38.50 for a 1-year registration or $77 for a 2-year registration

Upon submitting the application, the Hawaii Department of Health will review it for approval. The review period may take up to 2 weeks. Once an application has been approved, the applicant can access the 329 Card in the same registration portal. The applicant is advised to print the card, which may be used to purchase medical cannabis in Hawaii legally.

Note that a Hawaii Senate Committee approved a bill in February 2022 to permit Hawaiians aged 65 and older to automatically qualify for medical marijuana, regardless of whether they have been diagnosed with any medical conditions that would otherwise make them eligible. The bill (SB 2718), sponsored by Senators Chris Lee, Laura Acasio, and Mike Gabbard, seeks to exempt any resident of Hawaii aged 65 or older, as well as the person's primary caregiver to purchase, cultivate, or possess an unlimited supply of medical cannabis.

SB 2718 cleared the Hawaii Senate Health Committee unanimously (3-0) in February 2022 and has had its effective date slated for January 1, 2050 - a common legislative practice in the state, meaning that the measure will continue to be discussed and revised.

How Has Cannabis Legalization Impacted the Economy of Honolulu County?

According to a 2022 report by the HCIA (Hawaii Cannabis Industry Association), medical cannabis sales in the state experienced a steady rise at the inception of the medical cannabis industry. Sales thrived at the start of the industry in 2017 but slowed down in 2020 and 2021. The report cited medical cannabis sales plummeting from a 110% growth in 2019 to 68% in 2020 and just 12% in 2021.

Still, according to the HCIA report, the estimated medical cannabis industry economic impact through direct, indirect, and induced economic activity in 2021 included $30 million in earnings, $99 million in Hawaii output, and $4.7 million in state tax revenues, and 781 jobs.

The Effects of Cannabis Legalization on Crime Rates in Honolulu County

The arrest rates for marijuana-related offenses have dipped in Honolulu, according to arrest statistics submitted by the Honolulu City Police Department to the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program. In 2017, when medical cannabis sales began in Hawaii, the Honolulu City Police Department recorded 3,925 DUI arrests, 361 marijuana possession arrests, and 32 marijuana sales arrests. In the following year, 2018, the Honolulu City Police Department recorded 3,688 DUI arrests, 321 marijuana possession arrests, and 16 marijuana sales arrests.

In 2019, the arrest rates for DUI, marijuana possession, and marijuana sales declined further, with the City Police Department recording 3,519 DUI arrests, 292 marijuana possession arrests, and 11 marijuana sales arrests, respectively. The figures recorded in 2020 were the least yet since the sales of medical cannabis commenced in 2017. In 2020, 1,905 DUI, 37 marijuana possession arrests, and 15 marijuana sales arrests were made by the Honolulu City Police Department.

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Honolulu County Cannabis Overview